We drive the convertible to find out.
After we drove the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe, it seemed to us like the 8 Series nameplate was back and packing more style than ever. But then the M Division got its hands on BMW's flagship model and transformed it into the M8 and M8 Competition. Now the question must be asked - is the regular 8 Series good enough, or is it worth it to wait for the M8?
Not long ago we attended a media event called Topless In Miami where we were given the opportunity to drive an assortment of convertible and panoramic roof cars from several manufacturers. BMW brought an M850i xDrive Convertible to the event, giving us the perfect chance to get acquainted with it before the M8 arrives.
Looking at the M850i, it is difficult to see why anyone needs more car than this. Its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 produces an impressive 523 horsepower that goes out through an eight-speed automatic transmission and on to all four wheels. With launch control engaged, the big bruiser will hit 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds while the low growl of the V8 barks up from the rear end. BMW didn't want the 8 Series to be as loud as an AMG, but the deep grumble of its V8 is very pleasing. Dropping the top gives you unfettered access to the demonic exhaust and is well worth the $10,000 price increase over the Coupe.
The M850i xDrive Convertible starts $121,400, and the interior is befitting of such an expensive car. All of the materials feel premium, the technology is overwhelming, and the Swarovski crystal shifter (which also lights up) is a crowd pleaser. So why bother with the M8?
If you want an M8 Convertible, expect to pay $143,495 or $156,495 for the Competition Convertible. For the additional $22,000 to $35,000, the M Division will increase the output of the V8 to 600 or 625 hp, add a number of chassis and suspension upgrades, and improve the 0-60 time to 3.4 or 3.3 seconds.
In the real world, the performance figures of the M850i should be plenty, making the added cost of the M8 seem unnecessary. Plus, BMW gave the 8 Series a comfortable ride and we worry the M model will ruin it with a stiffer suspension. We'll have to wait to drive the M8 to see if that ends up being the case, but for now, the standard 8 Series is all the car most of us need.